Volunteering for Transition
“My fellow Infantry and Department of Defense service members know me as Sergeant Aguirre, of the United States Marine Corps,” said combat action veteran Noe Aguirre, of Mission Hills. While deployed in Afghanistan, he began thinking about his future and his education. “I looked at a map and, since I know the area, I decided SMC was the place for me.”
Noe suffers from several combat-related disabilities, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by constant headbanging from his helmet during rides in the turret of gun trucks on rough roads. “Overcoming those hurdles means understanding yourself and your abilities in the present moment,” he said. SMC’s Veterans Resource Center and the Center for Students with Disabilities “opened my world. The people are amazing and understand what veterans go through.” He particularly credits speech therapist Stephanie Lewis for helping him.
“Remember to look at adversity as a rite of passage,” said Noe. “The experience will make you stronger and wiser.”
Noe is a volunteer and 1st Vice Commander at the American Legion Palisades Post 283, which has programs to help homeless, at-risk, and transitioning veterans connect to organizations and services that can help. He also volunteers at Meals on Wheels West, where he helped develop their Veteran’s HomeFront, a food program that feeds veterans of all ages. The Veterans Administration is expanding the vet-to-vet outreach program to other states.
Noe graduates from SMC with an Associate degree in General Science. He plans to transfer, focus on sports medicine, and work to develop a program for active infantry to minimize acute injuries during training and in the field.